Heelwork Foundation Course

8 Lessons

May 2019

– introduction

Heelwork has been a passion for me since I trained my first dog. It brings a partnership to life that incorporates synchronised movement, balance, understanding and connection.

I began competing in the early 1970s and enjoyed a successful partnership with 13 dogs, mostly collies, but also a Gordon Setter and Cavalier in Obedience, reaching Crufts on four occasions. The mid 1990’s saw the birth of heelwork to music and freestyle and this has been my hobby and joy ever since. I have enjoyed Crufts with my 9th generation of collies now in the main ring with lights and music.

Teaching heelwork to this level is a complex arrangement of simple behaviours. The complexity is our burden, not the dog’s.

This course looks at teaching the foundations of heelwork for competitive dogs sports. The emphasis will be on building a heelwork-fit, balanced, confident athlete capable of sustaining the sport requirements.

We will teach accurate positioning with targets, build gaiting fitness that incorporates natural, balance without exaggeration, and integrate rewards that are woven into the essence of the moving partnership.

You can develop your training towards heelwork to music, obedience, working trials, or other suitable dog sport.

The majority of the training can take place in a reasonable sized kitchen, with weekly opportunities to build gaiting stamina on a suitable surface of a large area. A hard-top car park, or level lawn area would be perfect.

The course examines:

  • The components of the behaviours, identifying the goals and setting points of achievement
  • Teaching the dog self-positioning
  • Gait strength, fitness and balance
  • Building anticipatory rewards
  • Personal disciplines and handling skills
  • Transitions and changes
  • Performance and competition preparation

It would be useful for both you and your learner to be familiar with clean food delivery and the use of a marker. You will need to have researched your goal sport and have a clear understanding of the requirements and expectations. Clean, thoughtful training naturally develops learner confidence, a perpetual joy in learning and strong sense of achievement for both participants.

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